Walter James Dodd came to America from England at 10 years of age, and after holding various odd jobs became assistant janitor in the Boylston Chemical Laboratory at Harvard. His chief interest was not in "janitoring," for he followed carefully the work in chemistry with the students regularly enrolled, and was easily able to pass the examinations in the various courses. Later he was appointed assistant apothecary at the Massachusetts General Hospital, continuing his studies in chemistry, and finally passing the state examination and becoming a registered pharmacist. In addition to dispensing prescriptions, the apothecary was official photographer of the hospital, so that Dodd became an expert photographer.
In 1895 were published the first obscure reports of the discovery of the roentgen ray. Mr. Dodd became interested in this work, and was coadjutor in the early work with Dr. Walter B. Cannon on the subject. When Dodd began to work